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Classes: Moving Forward

Welcome back. We are all going through a rough period in our lives due to circumstances out of our control. I want you to know that your well being is my primary concern. Academics are extremely important; however, nothing supersedes your health and well being. I hope you will enjoy this class’ online component

NOTE: All dropbox’s are open and will remain so for the duration of the semester unless informed otherwise.

As you are all aware we will continue this class remotely until directed otherwise. Please check the University Website for the most current information.

I will be giving lectures concerning all assignments moving forward. Lectures will be provided via Zoom conferencing and pre-recorded video tutorials. More info to follow.

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Drawing (Shading)

What is shading in art?

With visual arts—especially pencil drawing—shading is very much necessary to bring depth to your work, adding dimension and defining where your subject is in relation to your light source.

It starts with value, which is the lightness or darkness of a color.

Shading refers to the darker values that, when combined with tints (lighter values), produce a more realistic masterpiece.

However, there are many elements of shading and techniques to learn first!

Elements of shading:

Cast shadow

The cast shadow is the darkest point on your drawing. It falls opposite the light source and represents where the object prevents the light from penetrating.

Shadow edge

This is where the object is turning away from you and is lighter than the cast shadow.

Pencil Shading Elements


This is the mid-gray of the object. It’s neither in direct light or shadow.

Reflected light

The reflected light is a light-gray tone. It’s found along the edge of an object and separates the cast shadow and shadow edge.

Full light

This area is stark white and shows where the light source is directly hitting the object.

When you understand how shading can affect how we perceive light to be drawn, your artworks will reach a stunning realism.

Types of shading techniques

Blending & Rendering

These are actually two techniques that work together to create our smooth finished product.

Blending uses different amounts of pressure to determine the values on your subject.

Use the medium itself or a blending tool to help you.

Then you can render the image to remove some of the density to create lighter areas. It’s a back-and-forth type of technique!


There are several types of hatching that exist.

This technique is when you simply let your lines travel together to create dimension.

Every time you put that pen or pencil to paper, keep the lines going in the same direction. The closer your lines get, the darker that area of the image will be.

girl practicing cross hatching on paper


Using the same lines as we did with hatching, cross-hatching is exactly what the name suggests: cross the lines.

The higher the density at which you are crossing the lines will determine the darker and lighter values.


With stippling, your goal is to express the gradation of value with dots, dots, and more dots.

And just like with the other shading techniques, the density of your dots will dictate the value throughout your subject matter.

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Drawing (blocking In)

A block-in is a light sketch of your whole composition before any details or shading are done to make sure it’s placed correctly on the page and that the proportions and distances are accurate.

Drawing basics with Sarah Parks | ArtistsNetwork.com

You can see from the block-in above that this light sketch doesn’t incorporate any refined shading or details, but it gets all the elements of the composition placed and sized correctly. The proportions and distances are accurate: the girl’s head isn’t too small for her body, the focal point (her body and the couch) are placed in the middle of the paper, etc. It’s the same idea as lightly sketching in the letters on a poster.

Drawing basics with Sarah Parks | ArtistsNetwork.com
Drawing basics: A reference photograph and a block-in, both with corresponding axis lines

The block-in above is a typical example of how most professional artists block in a drawing. They’ve honed their observation skills and, as you can see, can get everything well-placed on the page. But many beginning artists would find that still too advanced for their skills.

So here’s a straightforward tip that will enable you to lay the foundations of your drawing before you get too invested: use axis lines.

Draw a single vertical and horizontal axis line, placed exactly halfway between the edges of the drawing paper, giving you a center point. Do this on both your reference photograph as well. Using these axis lines and your center point as reference points, begin to draft your drawing by gauging the distances of your objects from those reference points. After you’ve checked your work and everything is placed correctly, you can erase the axis lines then and start to shade.

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Perspective and POV

Determine a Point of View

Where are you standing in relation to the objects you see? What is your point of view? Do you see them in full view? Do you see things from a side view or at an angle? Do you see anything in a foreshortened view?

Read Light and Shadow Is light falling on the objects? Is it falling from one side? Top? Bottom? Are there shadows on the objects? Are there cast shadows on the tabletop or floor? Read Color Which colors (hues, values, and chromatic intensities) do you see? Are the colors warm or cool?


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A History of Drawing

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk. –Paul Klee

Drawing is fundamental to all other art. It is how artists structure, plan and negotiate space. Drawings can be studies for later paintings or sculptures as well as being an art form on their own. Think of it as the foundation to your artistic house. If the foundation is weak, the house will collapse. As John Singer Sargent said, “You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”

Prehistoric artists used natural materials to create pigments they could draw with, such as red ochre and black charcoal. Ochre is a natural earth pigment that comes in a variety of colors from red to yellow and sometimes even purple depending on the amount of iron oxide, hematite, or other pigments mixed in with it. Black charcoal is made by burning tree branches (imagine the last time you had a campfire); the charred bits of wood that are leftover can be used as charcoal. Prehistoric artists would apply the pigments with their fingers, sticks, blown through a hollow piece of bone, or by applying the pigment directly to the walls of caves.

Drawing predates language, and these cave paintings were likely a way for prehistoric people to communicate things like which animals were available for hunting in the area.

These drawings on the walls of Chauvet Cave in southern France date from around 32,000-30,000 B.C.E.
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